FRIDAY FLYER-Issue 101
Dear Parents and Guardians,
I hope that everyone is well.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we have tried to communicate with parents, students and colleagues in as timely a manner as possible, to provide the most up to date picture on matters. This week has proved no exception, with the government announcement on the CMCO period for Negeri Sembilan and the MCO status for some neighbouring areas. Whilst it is, of course, good news that we are allowed to continue with physical lessons and some sporting/CCA activity, it was deeply unfortunate that the government directives initially prevented us from welcoming all our day pupils back who live in MCO areas. We have strived to provide a progressive online environment for those students who are absent, and that also includes a number of our international community who remain in other countries.
The good news, however, is that the Negeri Sembilan State Education Department has just announced that all day students are now allowed to travel interstate, from MCO areas to CMCO areas, for the purpose of attending school. This is very much welcomed and we look forward to students returning to school on Monday 18th January.
Of course, the health and safety of our students, and the whole Epsom community, remains our key priority, and we are always seeking to update and develop the SOPs that we operate on the school campus. Indeed, we are addressing these areas now. Therefore, please can I remind parents to follow our current practices (with the guidelines on our website – https://www.epsomcollege.edu.my/covid19-sop/) and it is important that we aim to reduce visits to the school site (wherever possible). We are working with the Ministry of Education to ensure we have a secure and safe site for your children.
On a much happier note, we are delighted to welcome back Mr Matthew Brown and Mrs Kate Carden-Brown, and their family, to Epsom and we very much look forward to their vision for the future. Mr Brown will, of course, be the new Headmaster after the February half-term and he is keenly anticipating writing to all parents in due course. This Friday Flyer also celebrates the arrival of other new colleagues to Epsom at the start of this Term and it is wonderful to have them here too!
I will write to all parents with any further updates from the respective Malaysian Ministries and, furthermore, we will circulate a newsletter for the end of this half-term.
With many thanks for your continued support.
Dr Murray Tod
New Year New Challenges: Be the change you want to see
Happy Friday everyone!! I am delighted to be back at Epsom, indeed our family are delighted to be back and we are hugely grateful for the warm welcome that we have received – terima kasih!
As I stated in my assembly presentation on Monday, 2021 brings with it new challenges. 2020 was a very tough year for us all and many will be glad to see its end. As we move into 2021 with ambition and enthusiasm, I ask you all to reflect, nevertheless, on the year and on yourselves. Here’s why.
Upon arrival in Malaysia I had to quarantine for ten days. In order to stay in contact with reality (and my sanity) I decided to keep a journal. The period of rumination I gained from my writing allowed me to better understand myself (why I felt stressed or content, for example), and therefore made me feel like a weight was lifted from me. Not only did I appreciate my day and its achievements more, but I was also able to look back at other moments in my life – be they anywhere from a week to twenty years ago! – and perceive them sometimes in a totally new way.
As I resume my role as Head of Higher Education at Epsom College, I am keen to encourage our pupils to take time to reflect. I encourage them to think about their strengths and achievements and to pay attention to detail, to the times that they have been, or could have been – kind, helpful and supportive. Focusing on the positive is hugely important and can enable us to cope when things are not going so well.
In addition, I encourage students to think about how they would like to develop themselves, and not just in regard to their studies. There are many things that we cannot change in life, and in a way we should be thankful for this: it is only through overcoming adversity that we can truly better ourselves. Some challenges can seem trivial but are in fact essential to a happy and healthy life. For example, maintaining eye-contact, good posture or a confident speaking voice are things we can all develop immediately and with ease and yet they can open doors which were previously closed. They all create an image of security, therefore making us seem open and welcoming, something which can tip the scales in numerous instances; be it a job interview or simply meeting a new person. If you take the time to reflect you will notice new ways in which you can improve upon yourself.
My theme of reflection and self improvement is relevant not only to your mental health and wellbeing, but also to your Higher Education journey. Those pupils considering making an application to the USA in particular, but also Canada among others, will be required to write essays on periods of personal growth, of challenges encountered and strategies adopted to overcome them. They are asked to describe times of personal dilemma or perceived failure. Some examples of essays can be found here: US College Essays 2021. It will therefore be most useful for our pupils to get into the habit of reflecting on their personal experiences and journeys and their impacts.
There are myriad opportunities available at Epsom through the extracurricular (sports & House events) and super curricular (debating, discussion groups) activities offered. Online learning has limited what can be done in some areas, but as we look ahead we are keen to enable our pupils to stretch and challenge themselves beyond the curriculum and to use these opportunities to better themselves, to venture outside of their comfort zone and to address what they identify as weaknesses.
Epsom seeks to provide a holistic education – at ECiM Every Child Matters. We recognise that every one of our students is unique and we value this. We, as staff, are committed to supporting the young people in our care. We want to encourage you to face all the challenges that life will throw at you in order to build emotional wellbeing, resilience, confidence and coping strategies. We are here to help. I hope that you will take the time to reflect on what you would like to achieve by the end of 2021, I hope that you will ‘be the change you want to see’.
I will conclude by wishing you all a very Happy New Year. May it bring you health, happiness and personal growth.
Mrs Catherine Carden-Brown
Head of Higher Education
Co-Curricular Activities Update
Despite the physical restrictions imposed by the current CMCO state, the Epsom College in Malaysia CCA programme continues to develop. This term, over 80 CCAs are on offer, with students taking part in a huge range of physical and enriching activities. Recent additions to the CCA programme are a Sixth Form Practical Leadership Course led by Mr Harwood, Epsom Monthly, a school newspaper led by Miss Hargreaves and E-FM, our new Epsom radio station led by Mr Schoeman.
Epsom Monthly CCA aims to develop the pupils’ journalistic skills: interviewing, design, article writing, editing etc. The goal for this monthly magazine is to be entirely student led – ‘written by pupils, for pupils’. They have creative autonomy in what content they cover, and aim to deliver fresh content each month. They will have regular columns: mystery writing section/sports page/Epsomian of the month, but other than that, the stories will change depending on what is happening in the college. We aim to have our first ‘taster’ issue in February, where it will go live on the Friday Flyer.
E-FM – Epsom’s very own student radio station is beginning to take shape with weekly CCA meets for Years 7-13. The students have begun preparing their programmes and shows and will begin recording in the next few CCA sessions. We’re looking forward to having you ‘tune’ in soon!
During this challenging period of blended learning, students currently working away from the Epsom site are encouraged to join in with their ECiM classmates via Google Meet.
Mr Philip Harwood
Malay Activities During The Online Lessons
Last term, we had an opportunity to make scrapbooks and mini folktale books for our students in Key Stage 4. We thought that this would be a fun, creative and collaborative way of learning while delivering online lessons. The objective of the project was to enable our students to become more familiar with the meanings and spellings of key vocabulary relating to the topic areas that we study in Malay, as well as to undertake independent research and study to discover necessary information relating to these topics among native and non native speakers. Students used their creativity and artistic talents in their tasks, while continuing to raise their standards in Malay.
At Key Stage 3, pupils have been very busy and it has been a genuine pleasure to see them improve and gain confidence in their ability in Malay. They are currently undertaking revision for upcoming speaking tests that represent an opportunity for some of the group to have a trial run of the IGCSE Malay exam later this year.
As teachers, we have really enjoyed working with our students. We have provided targeted, individual support and have commended the efforts of students who have been working diligently in preparation for their exams, despite these trying times of Covid-19.
Students in Year 11 will sit mock exams shortly and some are sitting a new exam namely Malay first language – this is the first cohort to sit this exam. It represents a challenge for them, but we are confident that they will rise to this challenge given their attitude and hard work. They have been very proactive in their studies, especially in Malay literature.
We wish all of our students good luck and are extremely proud of their achievements to date. We look forward to working with them in the year ahead.
Ms Noriza / Ms Suhada
Malay Language Teachers
Epsom Performing Arts Centre (EPAC) Spotlight
The Epsom Performing Arts Centre (EPAC) has some exciting projects in the pipeline this Term and we are hopeful that by the end of the term many of the students and parents will have a chance to experience and share in the successes of these projects.
Over the holidays the front facade of the Duke of York Theatre was revived with a fresh coat of paint and new signage (which is being gradually installed).
The Senior school students are preparing a play which will be staged (fingers crossed) in the third Term. The play is entitled ‘Harvey’ by Mary Chase and follows the story of a man and his ‘pooka’ – that’s a large white rabbit to you and me!
Our Epsom Radio (E-FM) is beginning to take shape with the design of a logo and other online peripheries being developed. Students from Years 7-13 are all working on developing programming which will delight, educate and entertain across all age groups and indeed, the airwaves!
Prep students are also taking part in Drama as part of their curriculum this Term and we look forward to working towards their showcase in the third term too!
Our Music department continues to work tirelessly to rehearse and present pieces not only for assessment but for our collective enjoyment. Look out for information about this Term’s Sunset Serenade and Lunchtime Live events. Our Prep musicians are also working hard preparing some Chinese New Year presentations, so do watch this space!
Mr Ian Schoeman
Head of Performing Arts
Ms Shanthi Pillay, “Make a difference – no matter how small”
Ms Shanthi is our new Maths teacher, as well as Rosebery’s new resident tutor. I really enjoyed finally meeting and getting to know Ms Shanthi officially after seeing her briefly around the house. She has only been here for a week but has already found that everyone within the Epsom community, ranging from the Rosebery teachers to SLT and from her students to her other colleagues, have been so friendly and welcoming. It is an “absolutely wonderful place to be”.
Ms Shanthi has been teaching for 29 years, studying locally in USM (Universiti Sains Malaysia) for her degree, UM (Universiti of Malaya) for her Masters and University of Southern Queensland for her Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching. After teaching both Tertiary programmes and A level at Brickfields Asia College, this is her first time teaching in a boarding school and expressed her delight in her warm welcome that has been filled with nothing but lovely girls full of smiles and joy. It simply “couldn’t be better”, and due to her smiley personality, friendliness, and her academic expertise, I’m sure her students would agree.
Through having an exemplary teacher in A-level who was so patient and so passionate about maths, Ms Shanthi had found her role model and this started her desire to simply make a difference. Personally, after speaking to Ms Shanthi, I have no doubt that she has made a difference in her students time and time again, especially due her personal achievements revolving around her past students contacting her about the difference she made in their lives, let alone academic lives. These are simply the rewards of this profession.
For this year, Ms Shanthi is looking forward to forming relationships with her colleagues, but most importantly the students, as she prioritises a safe environment for them to learn and in which to excel. Her goals for this year, like every year, are to improve and become both a better teacher and a better human being; believing that one doesn’t have to make “rocket science changes” to impact the world, a small difference will accumulate to brilliant things.
I’m sure we can all agree with the beautiful belief of paying something forward, as a little small act of kindness will lead to a massive chain reaction. As I am unfortunately not in Ms Shanthi’s Maths class, I am definitely looking forward to getting to know her better as our resident Rosebery tutor and am in no doubt that she will be an amazing addition to our family here at Epsom.
Head of College